WORKING BEE | TRUCK REVIEW – Iveco Eurocargo

IVECO’s Eurocargo finds the sweet spot with a honey of a cargo

For one of the smallest farmed creatures in pastoral care, the average bee actually requires an amazing amount of investment in both time and resources to keep the little flying honey makers productive.

When living in a beehive, the average bee has a home to come back to each evening, but, if the workers have been hard at it during the day, they soon run out of flowers and crops to pollinate. That calls for investment, and while per head of population of each hive can vary from 30,000 to 70,000 bees, when you manage a large number of hives you need to invest in a suitable truck to manage the movement of the hives to new areas to keep up the pollen count.

For the bee(n) counters of the finance industry, it makes for interesting statistics, as the investment in the cost of a new truck to move 1000 hives each carrying up to 70,000 bees can be amortised over no less than 70 million travellers, all hitching a ride to new pastures.

Third-generation apiarists, Ashley Smith and his father Eric from Lakeside Honey, have grown their business over several years to now own and manage almost 1000 hives, providing their produce to leading brands including Capilano and Archibald honey.

Based in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, the father and son duo are regularly on the road moving hives to chase flower blooms – the purchase of their new Euro 6 ML180 IVECO with sleeper cab makes this task easier and more efficient, with the higher capacity 18 tonnes GVM rated Eurocargo having replaced a smaller 8 tonnes GVM truck.

“Typically, the hives need to be relocated every six to eight weeks to keep the bees from running out of nectar,” Ashley said.

“With around 1000 hives to manage, this sees us regularly travelling to different locations in search of flowering trees and plants, we’re also called upon by agricultural companies to help pollinate their commercial crops, particularly the almond industry, which is very reliant on bees to produce the nuts. These requests see us driving to a lot of areas in regional Victoria.

“During the day the bees are away from the hives collecting nectar, so we normally work at night to shift the hives to different areas. This means I often need to sleep away from home and the large sleeper is just the right size to sleep in the truck. The high roof and compact transmission tunnel also allows easy movement around the cab,” said Ashley.

The truck is fitted with a 28-foot tray, providing sufficient space for up to 98 beehives, and is fitted with an ‘Ezyloader 125’ crane to ensure efficient loading and unloading of the hives, which can weigh 90 kg when full of honey.

To minimise damage from animal strikes when driving in rural areas, the Eurocargo is fitted with a steel bumper to protect the front of the vehicle. Given the time spent out on the road, Ashley also plans to equip the Eurocargo with a few more creature comforts of home in the near future, including DVD player and fridge.

Three cab variants are on offer to Eurocargo buyers, with a standard day cab, low-roof sleeper, and high-roof sleeper cabs. The standard fitout for all sleeper cabs includes full curtains, a reading lamp in the bunk and plenty of extra storage space, including an external toolbox-style compartment.

The Eurocargo spans the 12-18 tonnes GVM range, and in more common applications it specifically caters for the 10 to 14-pallet market with three models, all powered by the 6.7-litre, Tector six-cylinder turbocharged diesel. The 12-tonne ML120 offers 185 kW and 850 Nm of torque, while the ML160 and ML180 (16-18 tonnes) share the same higher power output of 206 kW and 1000 Nm of torque.

There’s a choice of transmissions between the five-speed Allison automatic for inner city urban operation and the nine-speed manual ZF transmission, as selected by Ashley and his father Eric for their Eurocargo. Thanks to the four-airbag equipped rear ECAS air suspension, the high quality of the ride comfort of the ML160 means no bruised bees at the end of their travels.

The standard safety equipment available on the Eurocargo includes disc brakes all around, with ABS, ASR (traction control), ESP (stability control) and active emergency braking. Lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control are also available as an option across the model range. The driver also gets an airbag, and daytime running lights are fitted as standard.

Ashley said that the truck is both easy and very comfortable to drive, but even more important to him is the model’s unique ‘HI-SCR’ emission control system.

The HI-SCR system works through fresh and clean air intake rather than exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), and uses selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and AdBlue injection to keep exhaust gas temperatures low and minimise nitrous oxide production within the exhaust emissions. The Euro 6 emissions rating for the ML160 is the cleanest rated exhaust system in trucks currently available in the Australian market.

“We’re often out driving in paddocks and reserves amongst really long grass, so it’s comforting to know we’re not going to set the place alight,” said Ashley.

“The industry is growing strongly year to year. Aside from the honey production, the demand for bees to do their pollination work on a commercial basis is also increasing. I love the industry and the variety of the work,” said Ashley
As an example of the variation in product available in the Eurocargo range, PowerTorque has been looking at a very special ML150 4×4 kitted out to tackle the outback and then travel the world.

The top end of the luxury off-road expedition market is very specialised, and it’s not uncommon in these circles to find that the original budget to build something very special is probably more than the owner might wish to discuss.

That certainly seems to be the case for a discreet West Australian buyer that has commissioned the creation of an unique Eurocargo ML150 4×4 outback tourer, in which to travel extensively across Australia. After that little jaunt is completed, there is every chance of wanting to ship the vehicle to other continents to continue the journey.

The ultimate Eurocargo all-wheel-drive camper was created as a joint operation between IVECO and specialist bodybuilder, SLRV Expedition Vehicles, on the Gold Coast.

Already a proven performer in emergency service, military, mining and exploration work, the Eurocargo ML150 4×4 was a logical starting place for the customer, according to SLRV Expedition Vehicles director, Warwick Boswerger.

“The Eurocargo, both as a 4×2 and 4×4, is known for its reliability and power in Europe, and it’s a platform that’s held in very high regard there, and in many other parts of the world,” Warwick said.

“From the factory the model has a six-speed manual transmission with full-time 4×4 system, hub reduction and front, centre and rear differential locks that ensure maximum traction.

“The multi-leaf parabolic springs with dual-acting hydraulic shock absorbers also provide excellent articulation, and the high-tensile steel chassis allows twisting to further help over rough terrain and undulations,” he said.

Powering the Eurocargo is IVECO’s Tector six-cylinder, 5.9-litre turbodiesel engine, which delivers 208 kW (279 hp) and a torque rating of 950 Nm from 1200 rpm.

Warwick said that other reasons why the truck was selected was because of the readily available sleeper cab option, ergonomic cab, and driver and passenger air-suspension seats.

“There wasn’t an additional cost in getting a sleeper cab model. The overall specifications, dimensions and the truck’s appointments were ideal for what the customer wanted,” Warwick said.

With the truck cab/chassis selected, the SLRV team went about creating one of the most luxurious and functional expedition bodies possible.

The fully custom-designed body includes a rear ‘garage’ able to accommodate a motorbike and two spare tyres – this equipment is accessed via a slide-out lifting system.

For extended periods on the road, the truck is fitted with a 600-litre water tank, a solar electric system, a lithium battery system and an AUTOSAT satellite system ensuring the owner can remain virtually self-sufficient and safe when travelling off the beaten track.

But being off the beaten track doesn’t mean these travellers will be roughing it.

In fitting out the interior of the body, SLRV has provided a high quality, modern finish more in keeping with a high-end studio apartment.

At the owner’s disposal is a galley kitchen with an oven/grill cooktop and microwave, solid surface bench tops, a four-person dinette, a queen bed, Fusion Entertainment System and LED TV, and a full separate ensuite.

If the owners want to spend time outside, there’s a recessed electric awning, built-in external barbecue on a slide, and an external shower.

“Basically this truck is built to go anywhere and to reach that inaccessible destination in luxury,” Warwick said.

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